A Tree Grows at St. Christopheradministrator2019-07-03T07:43:21-04:00
A Tree Grows at St. Christopher
What stood out most at a brief ceremony honoring the memory of Jack Fleischer was the silence. About 100 people gathered June 28 at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island, S.C., to remember the young lover of the outdoors who drowned at 19 after diving into Bohicket Creek. Many were early, and they formed a semi-circle facing the young magnolia planted in his honor.
They stood under the mid-afternoon sun, and they kept silent while waiting for the 2:30 p.m. ceremony to begin.
The participants included his parents, two younger siblings who were attending a camp session, other campers, and student staff members who worked with and loved the Anderson College student. Fleischer was a summer staff member when he died, which shook the emotional life of his housemates at St. Christopher.
The Rev. Bob Lawrence, executive director of St. Christopher, led the brief ceremony. After his death on July 7, 2018, the student was cremated and his ashes were buried at St. Christopher.
Planting a tree at St. Christopher was the initiative of staff members at Gravatt Camp and Conference Center in Aiken, Lawrence said. The summer staff of 2018 at St. Christopher agreed on a magnolia, which will grow tall and broad.
“Tomorrow was to be Jack’s birthday, but he has a new birthday in eternity,” Lawrence said. “This tree is little, but it will not stay little for long. It will grow and send down deep roots.”
“May this tree teach us the power of your presence among us,” prayed the Rev. Rob Kunes, chaplain of the St. Christopher Prayer Center. He prayed as well that in time the magnolia would remind campers of the tree of life described in Revelation 22:1-5.
The Rev. Scott Fleischer, Jack’s father, recalled a time when he and wife, Victoria, had trouble finding their son and eventually discovered that he had climbed to the top of a tree.
“That was his favorite place to be,” he said. “I hope this tree will be long-lasting and will give glory to God somehow.”
Justin Johnson, director summer camp at St. Christopher, recalled forming a fast bond with Fleisher when they met at camp. “We both loved the outdoors and running through the marsh at sundown,” he said. “Magnolias have a beautiful personality. Through this tree, I hope people will sense the fragrance of Christ.”
“This tree is an Ebenezer, a reminder of God’s faithfulness to Jack and to us,” Johnson said.
The gathered friends and family of Jack Fleischer sang “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing,” including these words composed in 1757: “Here I raise my Ebenezer; / Here by Thy great help I’ve come; / And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, / Safely to arrive at home.”
After Lawrence used palm leaves to sprinkle the young magnolia with holy water, he observed the custom of sprinkling holy water on the gathered congregation.
The service concluded, and those who knew Fleischer well were slow to leave. Silence prevailed again, and many campers embraced his family and each other.